In California, changes are coming to the way cities and developers analyze transportation impacts for new development under the California Environmental Quality Act.

This is great news. It will help cities get a more accurate picture of development’s real effects on roads, transit systems, and bicycle and pedestrian conditions and puts an end to level of service (LOS), a metric requiring costly and misleading analysis.

Nelson\Nygaard has been working for more than 20 years to change the way we measure the success of our transportation investments, including helping to shape SB 743 and working with the California Office of Planning and Research to develop new guidelines for CEQA. We can help you put in place some important policies to comply with the law.

What is changing

The California Office of Planning and Research is recommending per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT), which is simpler to calculate and measures regional impacts instead of just local impacts. Using VMT as your metric will lead to decisions that are good for all forms of transportation and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What you need to do

It’s time to start thinking about how your jurisdiction will measure transportation impacts. What is your community’s vision for the future? We can help guide your process:

  1. Educate your community. We all want to travel safely and easily to our destinations, and here’s something you can do about it.
  2. Adopt or amend your transportation impact fees. This will simplify things for developers as well as ensure you are getting funding for multimodal transportation improvements.
  3. Determine your performance metrics. LOS is no longer required. Whatever you choose, keep it simple. CEQA is not a planning tool; there are other ways to address transportation impacts.
  4. Go through the legal process. Gather findings, make administrative changes, and/or adopt new laws.